As a small business owner, it is easy to write off travel costs as too expensive. However, at some point, every company – no matter how big or small – will have to cross the country in order to communicate with clients and partners. Doing so can be the perfect way to expand the company and reach a wide range of potential customers.
With that in mind, the trick then becomes how to do this without cleaning out a business banking account. Sure, traveling is expensive. But that doesn't mean it can't provide a significant return on investment that will make it all worthwhile. Thankfully for small business owners everywhere, there are number of tips on how to save money while still traveling for work.
In order to get started, here are a few that could help ensure a financial plan stays on track:
Start with clear-cut policies
The best travel plans are written out long before the first staff member boards a plane. This is necessary because it removes any gray area where money can be wasted, and it determines the most cost-effective methods to cross the country.
According to Inc. magazine, this can be achieved within the human resources department. The overall theme is to act in the best interests of the company, which means that employees have to understand that splurging at the fancy restaurant or staying at the best hotels may not be possible during these types of trips. In addition, it can be wise to start looking at analytics to determine where too much money is being spent. For example, certain airlines may fly to the same cities, but one could cost more than the other. Figuring out the most affordable strategies for traveling can be the best way to keep a financial plan in line for the long haul.
Above all else, leadership has to set a strong example for how the business is represented while traveling. Inc. magazine noted that CEOs that live the high life on the road demonstrate to other workers that this type of luxurious lifestyle is appropriate. On the other hand, economical choices can send the right message.
Create a dedicated department
Travel costs for a small business can get high if they aren't properly managed. While the number of workers in the office may be low, it could still be a smart choice to create a dedicated department designed to handle this specific aspect.
Forbes explained that these professionals control the travel policy, determine spending guidelines and stay in touch with hotels and car rental companies across the country. This way, the big money decisions aren't in the hands of the employees on the ground.
"There are a lot of ways you can save money that do not inconvenience your employees," Suzanne Fletcher, CEO of the National Business Travel Association, told the news source. "Even though we love to keep our costs low, we must also make sure the accommodations are safe, traceable and convenient."
For example, employees could be encouraged to stay with friends while traveling, instead of at a hotel. Those that do could be rewarded with a slightly larger budget. However, it is important to drive home the point that it is never wrong to rent a room instead. In fact, choosing a mid-priced hotel might be better than a budget one, because perks are often included, such as free breakfast and better security. This could actually end up saving money in the long run, since workers don't have to go out in order to find food.